A day was never going to be enough in this famous place. At 7am I was already up and ready to catch a local bus out to the Fushimi Inari Shrine. If you have seen Memoirs of a Geisha, the little girl runs through what looks like an orange tunnel. This shrine has about 11,000 torii gates, one next to the other, all the way up the hill. I can recommend it to even the shrined-out. All along the way are lots of little shrines, many dedicated to foxes, who feature in Shinto, being respected for their wily cunning and mercurial natures. By nine am, T-shirt saturated, I took the train back into Kyoto and went to Nijo Castle.
Nijo Castle features, amongst other things, a ‘nightingale floor’. Apparently special clamps were placed under the boards to emit a squeaky chirping sound (hence the name) to alert for the presence of intruders. Hmmm. I'm not so sure, as I heard the same nightingales in the Sanjusangendo temple...methinks an excuse for squeaky floorboards...
On my third sugary drink for the day I headed off for the back streets of Kyoto and the canals where you can take the Path of the Philosopher. This is a pleasant shady walk along canals with regular stone benches to sit on and pass the time and, yes, drink another sugary drink.
Just browsing in shops in these backstreets is a pleasure as you find all sorts of little treats and oddments. I developed a taste for a flour and water type sweet filled with flavoured bean paste. You could get mango, blueberry, rock melon, peach etc. Another little treat was roasted rice contained in a boiled sweet like wrapper the flavour of green tea. Like peanut brittle without the dental danger.
I saw many rickshaws being dragged along the stones in the heat taking tourist maikos for some showing off. These girlies pay a small fortune to be made up like geishas (actually true geisha don't wear all the makeup, this is for the apprentice maikos who have to be overtly glamorous and showy to fill the skills deficit). It was easy to tell they were not true maikos though as the makeup was not very high standard and the kimono and obi colours garish and clashing. They still made for good photos, though. We were lucky enough to see a real geisha in the early evening. Gosh, they can walk fast in those gettas.
The Sanjusangendo temple is also good for the shrined-out. It has 1,001 buddas. Highly reminiscent of the terracotta warriors, they are presented in immaculately ordered rows in a grandstand of about ten levels, in all their bronzy gold glory. Another feature of this temple is its history as a centre for an archery competition. Young archers would compete to see who could hit a target the most over a 24-hour period. Long ago, one notable lad of about 18 fired off an incredible 13,000+ arrows over the period (approximately one every eight seconds for the whole period). He was not the most accurate with about 11,000 hitting the target, but he is famous for being the most prodigious. And I saw the bows; they were big and heavy. They also had an old lintel of the verandah on display. It was so chock-a-block with miss-fired arrows it looked like thatch.